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The secret to having your dream home – Part I

Watch, read, or listen to anything about building your dream home and the words ‘perfect for entertaining’ are likely mentioned at least a few times. After a while of hearing this phrase over and over again, I wondered if people are entertaining so much today that they need a home specifically built for this? Why is this feature so desirable? I thought about it for a while and doubt that most families entertain more now than a generation or two ago. Maybe the phrase is instead a reflection of a new way of life where ‘entertaining’ simply means spending time with your loved ones and not necessarily hosting formal dinner parties.

entertainer's kitchen eclectic Jessica Helgerson

Is this not the perfect entertainer’s kitchen? A yellow velvet sofa to cozy-up on while you chat with the chef, built-in hutch filled with family heirlooms that each have a story to tell, and a killer island for the guests to drink a glass of wine at while they help you chop the vegetables!  
Jessica Helgerson Interior Design – Alhambra Kitchen

We live more casually now and want a home that will fit this lifestyle. Having your guests watch you – and often also help – make the meal before sitting down to enjoy it together is pretty common. Hence, homes where cooking, eating, and relaxing all happen in one large space are labelled as ‘perfect for entertaining’. In fact, the same house could also be called ‘perfect for young families’. Often because we’re all so rushed for time that the only chance to connect together is while each doing something different, yet together.

What label would you give to your dream home? Would it be ‘perfect for entertaining’, ‘perfect for a book-loving writer’, or ‘perfect for the weekend gardener’? Everyone’s dream is a bit different, but with design and decorating the same home can adapt to fit very different wants. Knowing what your dream home looks like is knowing yourself. Where do you start? Why not with your values.

If you hone in on your values, you will know what fulfills you when you are at home. Then use it as a guide for decorating your space. For some that will be time spent with friend and family in the kitchen, while for others it might be the opportunity for solitude and time to work on creative projects.

Why is it important to know your values?

Our values are like the north star that guides our life decisions. When we act in-line with our values, things feel right and we usually feel fulfilled and happy. Of course the opposite is true as well – when we contradict our values things often feel out of place. I believe everyone has a core set of beliefs about what’s important in life that are pretty consistent. However, their priority order and how they are expressed will likely change over time and at different life stages. Similarly, what we desire in a dream home will change as our needs change based on life stage.

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Could this be your dream home? Photo by Andy Best

By investing time to think about your values and articulating how you want to express them in your home, you will:

  • Save time and money because you won’t rush to move unnecessarily and instead focus on making your current home live up to its potential
  • Be smarter about what you spend money on in your home
  • Alleviate stress by organizing your home to work for your unique needs
  • Or, you will have clear and focused goals for when it’s time to look for a new place

How to discover your values

First, ask yourself ‘What is most important to me?’ Perhaps it’s family, your work, money, or time outdoors. Next, expand on your answers by thinking about what each of your answers means to you in more depth. Your initial response will often be the means to the core value that you will uncover with the second question. For example, creativity is important to me because it is the means to self-expression, individuality, and beauty.

home gallery-wall entry large art

Having unique are is a must for me to feel at home.
Abstract painting // Gallery wall

If you are having a hard time with this exercise, think back to times in your life when you felt happiest, most fulfilled, or proud. The circumstances surrounding these moments will give you clues to the core values that you were able to satisfy at the time.  

After you work on this for a little while and feel like you have a comprehensive list, it’s time to prioritize. Look at your list and rearrange it from the most to least important.

How to translate your core values into your dream home

Take the top three to four values you wrote down and for each ask yourself how you could express this value in your lifestyle and home. For example, since I value self-expression and beauty, I would like to display more original art in my home. I also value order and enjoy making sure everything has its place in the house. As a different example, someone might place nature, health, and sustainability at the top of their values list. For them it could be important that they have a vegetable garden or indoor space for plants.

If you realize that your home doesn’t align with your key values right now, brainstorm ways you could do things differently. Moving furniture around, adding art and accessories, or just decluttering your space, can have a profound effect on how you feel in your house.

indoor garden lounge lemon tree

A dream home fit for a gardener.
Green living-room // Indoor lemon tree

As an additional option, try doing an ‘ideal weekend’ exercise. Think about all the things you would do in a weekend if you had freedom to do anything you wanted in your home. I chose the weekend because that’s when we usually have the most unstructured time in our life and are free to do whatever we want. The rest of the week is often spent at work and doing daily chores and routines. If you work from home and have a flexible schedule, try adapting the exercise to be ‘my ideal week’. The goal of both of these exercises is to identify what success means when your home reflects your top core values. How do you want to feel when you’re at home? What would make you call it your ‘dream home’?

Do the exercise for yourself and if you live with other people, think about how the same questions might be different for the rest of your family. If you can, get them involved in the conversation at the proverbial ‘dinner table’, or any other time you think will be a good opportunity for honest conversation about this topic. Somewhat surprisingly to me, whenever I propose moving furniture around in my own home there is often some questioning from my husband about whether it’s a good idea.

If you are enjoying this process and would like to take it a step further, write a statement that summarizes your top values and how you would like to see them expressed in your home. It will become your mission statement for future projects and help you prioritize what you spend your money on.

What’s next?

Hopefully you feel great about your new found guidance for organizing and decorating your space. But what if you feel bad about how different your currently home is from your dream home? Don’t despair and instead use the information to slowly make changes in your space to support you dream life. Eventually you might be able to do a bigger renovation, or move to a different place, but above all you will be looking at your home with a new set of priorities. This alone will often result in new ideas for where and how you can make changes for the better.

home office minimalist modern-boho

Both of these rooms are work spaces, but notice how different they feel. Would you choose the minimalist modern room, the contemporary bohemian room, or something else all together? 
Minimalist modern office // Contemporary boho office

Maybe you will be inspired to move furniture to improve the flow between the kitchen and dining space. Maybe you work from home and what was originally designed as the formal dining space would work much better as your office. Everyone’s situation is different, but at the end of the day the exercises should empower you to customize your home according to your life priorities. Treat it as inspiration next time you are browsing Pinterest to find new ideas for your space. Go ahead, create a new board called ‘Dream Home’ and start pinning! I’ve started mine.







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